by Fatih Demir

After the military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15th, 2016, the government shut down 200 media outlets, purged hundreds of journalists and 180 of them have been jailed. To that end, Twitter became the only platform for the Turkish people to express their ideas, particularly for the opponents of President Erdogan.

A recently published research article by Demir and Bastug (2016) revealed that the tweets posted from Turkey in the Turkish language with the hashtag “coup” analyzed for sentiment and future prediction of Turkish people. In detail, re-tweets as an indicator of agreement of idea and that of referring to the future circumstances selected to analyze of the Turkish social media users’ predictions about the developments in the future of Turkey.

The use of Twitter to voice about the unjust actions, massive purge and mass arrests triggered government authorities to censor some Twitter accounts. Moreover, twitter accounts mainly run by opponents, including some journalists, have been ordered to be blocked for investigating terrorism by Turkish courts. Although the government does censor Twitter somewhat, many Twitter users have continued to post messages. On the other hand, it is a fact that there is an army of more than 6000 social media trolls who supports President Erdogan’s opinion no matter what it is.

Research results show that Turkish twitter users are becoming more pessimistic about the developments in economic, security and education areas in the future of Turkey, but are only optimistic in political developments regarding Turkey’s future which mostly dominated by the trolls who are in favor of President Erdogan.

Moreover, the research results revealed that Turkish tweeter users heavily pessimistic about the economic developments in the future. Mostly the word “dollar” was mentioned on negative tweets which most users’ ideas in increase in US Dollar compared to Turkish Liras in the future. Additionally, President Erdogan is one of the main figures in the discussions in both positive and negative tweets. Although paid supporters in favor of Erdogan dominate Twitter, President Erdogan influenced people in debates where his name mostly mentioned when people talking politics and economics and security. Supporting ISIS militants in Syria by Erdogan regime, terrorist attacks in Turkish Territory and Erdogan’s politics was criticized negatively in debates regarding future predictions and expectations by Turkish twitter users. Among all, politics was the only category that users post messages more positively than negative. Otherwise, Turkish Social Media users talk on more negative and are more pessimist in the circumstances regarding education, security, economy and other topics.

The most users retweeted negative expectations in future circumstances regarding economy, education, and security.

Shortly after the publication came out, Twitter users’ pessimistic assumption regarding economic developments, most notability in “dollar”, came true in late November and early December of 2016. Turkish Liras lost its value tragically the most in the history compared to the US Dollars. As of August 16, One US dollar was equal to 2.94 TL but it raised up quickly to 3.70 TL on January, 2017.

On the other hand, OECD-wide education test PISA results revealed that Turkey dropped from 44th spot to the 49th compared to the last test in 2012. Although the report results derived the students’ scores in 2015, morel likely to bad expectations of the users are more likely to come true in the next year. Because government dismissed 51.245 teachers and academics after the failed military coup and currently Turkish students are suffering from lack of teachers in Turkish institutes.

Recently, a suicide bomb attack was killed 44 Turkish citizens in Istanbul on December 10th, 2016 as anticipated in the research results. However, there is neither domestic nor international success of Turkish politicians yet despite the research results regarding political expectations of Turkish Twitter users.

The article is accessible at Demir, F., & Bastug, M. F. (2016). Red Alert: Get Ready to Crash! A Social Media Analysis on Predicting the State Failure in Turkey. International Journal of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, 1(4), 124–131.

*Fatih Demir is a Post doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri. Dr. Demir has spent years teaching and researching Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Usability, Interaction Design, Social Media Analysis, and e-government design. He also served 17 years in Turkish Ministry of Interior.

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